Vung Tau is not one of the places on the typical Vietnam tourist itinerary, but its an incredibly popular beach vacation destination for Ho Chi Minh City residents. Located just about 2 hours by car (or 90 minutes by ferry) outside of the city, it’s conveniently located and provides a relaxing respite from the big, bustling city.
And while there are plenty of lavish Vung Tau hotels with such amazing outdoor pools and private beaches that you might not want to venture off the property (check out our favorites below), there are so many other fun things to see and do in Vung Tau.
Check out our list of the best things to do in Vung Tau so you can make the most of your tropical Vietnam vacation!
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- The 15 Best Things to do in Vung Tau
- 1. Climb to the Top of the Christ the King Statue
- 2. Hike to the Vung Tau Lighthouse
- 3. Ride the Doppel Mayer Cable Car
- 4. Indulge in High Tea at the Imperial Garden Bar
- 5. Tour the White Palace
- 6. Wade out to Hon Ba Temple
- 7. Walk Around the Boardwalk
- 8. Lounge on the Beach
- 9. Listen to Live Music at Cafe Art Mio
- 10. Enjoy a Cocktail at Sunset at the Marina Club
- 11. Stroll Around the Thich Ca Phat Dai Temple
- 12. Pick your Favorite Pizza Joint
- 13. Visit the Chon Khong Monastery
- 14. Snap Photos at the Upside Down House
- 15. Take Selfies at Nha Seo Fi
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Where to Stay in Vung Tau
The first thing you’ll notice as you approach the Imperial Hotel Vung Tau is the gorgeous outdoor bar and coffee shop that occupies the front lawn (more on that below). And once you step inside you’ll love the opulent Victorian-era furniture. Guests can enjoy the private beach, the pristine pools, the relaxing spa, the beach club, and the gaming club. It’s a glamorous hotel and one of our favorites in Vung Tau!
Fusion Suites Vung Tau is another great hotel choice for your stay in Vung Tau! This beautiful hotel is located right near Front Beach so you’ll be just a short walk from the ocean. Rooms are big, bright, and impeccably clean with modern decor and lots of amenities. You can take advantage of the fitness center, bar, restaurant, and your own private terrace!
The Pullman Vung Tau is another amazing resort in Vung Tau that is located right near Back Beach. It features sleek, clean rooms that are spacious and stocked with everything you’ll need during your stay. The resort offers an outdoor pool, fitness center, bar, restaurant, and private beach area.
How to get to Vung Tau
Vung Tau is just 60 miles (~95 km) from Ho Chi Minh City and the drive typically takes ~2-2.5 hours. While there is a small airport in Vung Tau, it is primarily used by helicopters bound for the oil rigs stationed just offshore.
The 3 most common ways of reaching Vung Tao from Ho Chi Minh City are by minibus, private car, and high-speed ferry.
There are numerous luxury minibus companies that leave for Vung Tau every day of the week. Most of them depart from Nguyễn Thái Bình Street in District 1. Anh Quoc and Hoa Mai are two reliable companies with well-maintained and comfortable vans. A one-way ticket should costs you ~$8-10 USD (180,000-230,000 VND). You can compare all of your different minibus options on Bookaway.com.
If you’re traveling as a group or don’t mind spending a bit extra for comfort and privacy, you can just hire your own car and driver to take you to Vung Tau. It should cost you ~$40-60 USD for a one-way trip depending on the size of the vehicle and your negotiation skills. You can also find private transfer services on Bookaway, but we recommend Vikado Transportation Services. We have used their services quite a bit for trips around Southern Vietnam. It’s run by Tuyen (aka “Dennis”) and you can reach him at +84 98 558 34 89 (Line, Viber, WhatsApp, etc.).
The GreenlinesDP ferry service between Ho Chi Minh City and Vung Tau is surprisingly reliable, comfortable, and affordable. The trip takes ~2 hours and there are 4 daily departures on weekdays and 6 on weekends. A one-way ticket costs 240,000 VND (~$10.50 USD) on weekdays and 280,000 VND (~$12 USD) on weekends.
The ferry leaves from the Bach Dang Pier in District 1 – right across the street from the Majestic Hotel. And in Vung Tau, it docks right behind the Dopple Mayer Cable Car.
The ferry often sells out on weekends and holidays so it’s best to book your tickets in advance on the GreenlinesDP website. It’s also worth noting that the ferry tends to run a bit behind schedule so build some extra time into your travel schedule.
The 15 Best Things to do in Vung Tau
1. Climb to the Top of the Christ the King Statue
The Christ the King Statue that stands on top of Mount Nhỏ overlooking the ocean in Vung Tau is reminiscent of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil. Both have inviting outstretched arms that look like they are ready to give you a big bear hug.
The two statues are even similar in size – Vung Tau’s Christ the King is 118 feet tall in total (including the base platform) and his arms span 60 feet. Christ the Redeemer is a similar height but with a slightly longer arm span at 92 feet.
You’ll be rewarded with the best views of Vung Tau from the tiny, cramped viewing platforms on Christ the King’s shoulders. But in order to get there, you’ll need to climb over 800 stairs to the base of the statue and then another 133 steps once inside. The spiral staircase inside of the statue is small and often crowded so you’ll likely need to wait your turn to get out to the viewing platform.
It’s best to visit early in the morning to avoid the heat and the crowds and be sure to bring plenty of water. There are a couple of small shops on the walk up and at the base of the statue if you need some refreshments.
You’ll also notice signs indicating that visitors wearing shorts or tank tops will not be allowed inside the statue. This policy doesn’t seem to be enforced, but it’s still best to dress conservatively and respect the fact that it’s a religious site.
The staircase up to the Christ the King statue is open from 6:30am – 5:00pm daily with the last entrance at 4:20pm.
The interior of the statue is open from 7:15am – 11:30am and from 1:30pm – 4:30pm. The last entrance is 15 minutes before closing time. On Thursday it is closed in the afternoon for cleaning.
2. Hike to the Vung Tau Lighthouse
A long and windy road leads up the Nui Nho (“small mountain”) to the whitewashed Vung Tau Lighthouse. Built by the French in 1862, this particular lighthouse is well known as it is the oldest of the almost 80 lighthouses in Vietnam.
Once you reach the lighthouse you’ll be rewarded with 360° views of Vung Tau and it’s a great place to catch the sunset. Note that there isn’t really anything else here aside from a few overpriced coffee shops but if you’re visiting in the heat of the day you’ll appreciate taking a rest with an ice-cold beverage.
3. Ride the Doppel Mayer Cable Car
This fun activity in Vung Tau isn’t just a ride in a cable car, but it also includes a trip to an amusement park that kids will love! The Ho May Culture and Ecotourism Park sits at the top of a hill and is reached by a scenic ride in the cable car.
The entrance fee for the Dobbel Mayer Cable Car covers unlimited rides in Ho May park so kids (and adults) can go wild! The rides offered include bumper cars, rollercoasters, go-karts, and more. Adults will love the views over Vung Tau on the cable car ride to the top, and kids will love spending the afternoon playing games in the amusement park. It’s fun for the entire family!
400,000 VND per adult to ride the cable car and have unlimited use of the games in the Ho May amusement park.
4. Indulge in High Tea at the Imperial Garden Bar
The Imperial Hotel is a beautiful, old fashioned hotel located right on the beach in the heart of the city. It’s one of the best places to stay in Vung Tau but even if you don’t spend the night there, it’s worth a visit to their stunning beautiful outdoor garden bar.
The front lawn of the Imperial Hotel has been transformed into a swanky little bar and teashop with classy but comfortable cushions for seating and large tent seats that are perfectly Instagrammable. It’s impossible to resist walking around snapping photos here.
And while they have a variety of alcoholic beverages on the menu, we would suggest opting for their High Tea. It’s a surprisingly good deal at under $20 USD for 2 people and includes tea or coffee and a selection of sweet and savory treats. And the treats are served on a darling little dessert tray which will complete your garden bar selfie.
There are no fans in the Garden Bar so we would recommend waiting until 3:30pm or 4:00pm to enjoy your high tea to avoid the midday heat. And if it’s too warm you can always head inside to the lounge that oozes with old Hollywood glamour.
5. Tour the White Palace
Built in 1898, the White Palace (Bach Dinh) is a mansion that has a French architectural style. It sits far above the city of Vung Tau on Big Mountain. It was originally built to be the summer retreat for General Paul Doumer, a French Governor.
The house itself is quite impressive and the expansive views out of the second-story windows are beautiful. But the exhibits are poorly signed and the mansion has no historical information to help you understand what you are looking at.
The most impressive room in the palace is right inside the front entrance which has clearly been well maintained. The rest of the palace and the furniture could use a good scrub and some TLC. There are no air-conditioning or fans inside the palace so you won’t want to stay here for long.
6. Wade out to Hon Ba Temple
Hon Ba is a small island off the southeastern tip of the peninsula with a small temple perched on in the middle. During low tide, you can actually walk along a slippery rocky path all the way to the island. Just be careful that you don’t stay too long or you’ll have to swim back to the mainland!
Ask your hotel concierge to check the tide charts before heading out on this adventure in Vung Tau.
7. Walk Around the Boardwalk
Vung Tau is situated on a peninsula so the small city is bordered by the sea on three sides. Running all along the coast you’ll find a fairly well-maintained sidewalk (a rarity in Vietnam) with plenty of coffee shops, bars, restaurants, food trucks, and even a couple of shaded parks.
It’s a great place for a stroll early in the morning before it gets too hot out or in the late afternoon as the sun is setting. In the morning you’ll see locals exercising, visitors heading to the beach, and fishermen bringing in their daily catch.
8. Lounge on the Beach
The 4 most popular beaches in Vung Tau are Front Beach, Back Beach, Pineapple Beach, and Paradise Beach.
Front Beach (Bai Truoc) and Back Beach (Bai Sau) are the most popular beaches in the city. The water isn’t the cleanest at Front Beach so you may not want to swim here but it is filled with restaurants so you’ll have plenty of delicious seafood dining options. Back Beach can get pretty windy so it’s popular with windsurfers and surfers. It has a long, wide beach so even though it gets quite crowded, you can find a good spot to lounge.
Pineapple Beach (Bai Dua) is the smallest of the 4 beaches but arguably the cleanest. Here you’ll find calm waters, perfect for swimming. And you’ll have to pay a fee to enter Paradise Beach because it’s part of a resort park so it’s much less crowded and has some high-end dining options. You’ll probably appreciate having access to bathrooms and changing rooms but you’ll pay considerably more here for food and drinks.
9. Listen to Live Music at Cafe Art Mio
Cafe Art Mio is a lovely coffee shop with funky music-themed decor that also has live music on the weekends. The seating is comfortable and it has air conditioning which you’ll appreciate after a day of exploring Vung Tau in the hot sun. They offer a wide selection of refreshing drinks at reasonable prices and the service is friendly.
You’ll want to spend all afternoon at Cafe Art Mio! It’s a great place to get some work done (the upstairs area is quieter) or catch up with friends over a cup of coffee. It’s definitely one of the best coffee shops in Vung Tau!
10. Enjoy a Cocktail at Sunset at the Marina Club
If you want a beautiful place to enjoy views of the ocean at sunset, be sure to head over to the Marina Club Vung Tau about an hour before to nab one of the coveted front row tables. You can lounge on the expansive sun deck while sipping surprisingly reasonably priced cocktails and enjoying the view of Pineapple Beach and the South China Sea.
11. Stroll Around the Thich Ca Phat Dai Temple
The Thich Ca Phat Dai is a Theravada Buddhist temple located on the Western side of Vung Tau. You’ll follow rambling pathways and staircases up the hillside passing several different buildings and statues representing important stages of the Buddha’s life.
The thick forest surrounding the temple makes you feel like you’re miles away from the city of Vung Tau, and if you come here in the early morning you’ll likely have the place all to yourself with the exception of a few resident monks.
12. Pick your Favorite Pizza Joint
Spoiler alert: The best pizza joint in Vung Tau is David Pizzeria, hands down.
Even though we just spoiled it for you, you can still have fun sampling the various options and deciding for yourself. And if you are wondering why pizza is such a popular cuisine in Vung Tau, we have no idea. If you search Tripadvisor for the best restaurants in Vung Tau, you’ll find Pizza Leo, David Pizzeria, and Luca Pizza all at the top of the list.
We’d recommend that you sample all of them to find your favorite but if you don’t have the time (or if you’d rather avoid an all-pizza diet), just make sure you don’t miss out on David Pizzeria, it really is the best!
13. Visit the Chon Khong Monastery
The Chon Khong Monastery is a peaceful place to visit during your stay in Vung Tau. It is also located on the slopes of Big Mountain so you’ll be able to enjoy views of the city here. The area is nicely landscaped and has some shade if you need to escape the heat.
There is a large Buddha statue being constructed right next to the monastery which will make this destination even more of a must-see during your trip to Vung Tau!
14. Snap Photos at the Upside Down House
The Upside Down House is a fun thing to do in Vung Tau whether you’re 8 or 80 – it’s great for any age! The “house” is several stories of rooms that have been painted to appear upside down. And furniture has been affixed to the walls and the ceiling so when you stand on the floor and take a photo, it appears as though you’re hanging from the ceiling!
There are friendly staff members around to take photos for your group, and there are photos hung on the wall to show you fun poses to consider. Whether you have kids or are just a kid at heart, you’ll love snapping fun photos at the Upside Down House!
There is also an attached coffee shop if you’d like to have a drink while browsing through your silly photos.
40,000 VND for adults
30,000 VND for children 1.1 meters and above
Free for seniors and children under 1.1 meters
15. Take Selfies at Nha Seo Fi
The Nha Seo Fi (Selfie House) is similar to the Upside Down House in that there are several floors, each with different scenes for photos. A helpful staff member will guide you around and show you how to pose so they can snap a photo of your group. Unfortunately, there are no photos on the wall to show you what the photo is supposed to look like which makes it a bit more challenging.
If you only go to one of these houses, the Upside Down House was by far our favorite. The photos scenes are more unique and the photos come out sillier. But both are extremely entertaining.
Nha Seo Fi also has an attached coffee shop if you need a pick-me-up after your photoshoot.
40,000 VND for adults
30,000 VND for children 1.1 meters and above
Free for seniors and children under 1.1 meters
That’s it! The best things to see and do in Vung Tau. We hope you have an amazing trip!
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